Farmers are fearing that the entire Highland region could become branded with ‘national park status’ as proposals have recently emerged for new national parks to be formed on a large area west of Inverness and on Skye.
Protests took place recently against the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) with farmers and crofters arguing that they have been poorly informed by those in power when it comes to making decisions in the area.
Those in the newly proposed areas such as Glen Affric, Loch Ness and on Skye fear they are now in the same boat as those in the CNPA area, with community consultation meetings being advertised at short notice.
The two new proposed national parks near Inverness are Glen Affric & Loch Ness and Ben Wyvis & Glen Affric, with the application due to be submitted to the Scottish Government by February 29.
One local farmer who has been rallying support on social media said he was only made aware last week that he farms in two application areas for national park status.
He said: “I’m worried. We don’t have enough evidence from any point of view to form a real opinion on how this might affect us as farmers, rural workers or as people who live in the community. The decisions made now will impact mostly on the next generation.
“As landowners, we were not consulted in the pre-application stages. It makes me very suspicious that it seems to have gone right under the radar.”
Meanwhile, more than 110 concerned farmers, crofters and local stakeholders attended a meeting in Skye, chaired by NFU Scotland (NFUS) vice-president Alasdair Macnab.
All attendees indicated that they did not support the creation of a National Park in their area.
NFUS is now hosting a national webinar on Monday February 5 at 6.30pm to inform members about the nomination process.
Mr Macnab said: “Farming and food production are highly important to Scotland’s rural economy and are the key drivers of the local community and landscape management that draws in other opportunities.
“This must be a major consideration when assessing nominations for new national parks.
“Meaningful involvement of the local community at each stage in the nomination process is key but that is not being delivered by many of the proposed bids.
“The nomination process for new national parks is causing a lot of concern and confusion for members with regards to what it means for them and their area. If your area is proposing a new national park, I urge you to attend the online meeting.”
Registration is at: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMudO6opzsvEt08IdPxXsnlqTAVSXTH5RMC